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Interview: Joseph Chinotimba
08/11/2010 00:00:00
by Veneranda Langa
Interview ... Joseph Chinotimba
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JOSEPH Chinotimba says in a new interview that war veterans, whom he leads, want President Mugabe declared "life President" in the new Zimbabwe constitution which is at drafting stage.

Chinotimba (JC) tells NewsDay's Veneranda Langa (ND) that he entertains ambitions of being Education Minister, but has no interest in the presidency: "It would take me 3,000 years to reach that position."

ND: President Robert Mugabe has announced that the country will go for elections in June 2011; do you think the country is ready for those elections?

JC: My view is that Mugabe is 100% right. We need elections soon in this country, whether other people want it or not. We become surprised when we hear other leaders in the GNU saying they do not want elections.

ND: But they have said they want elections in a free and fair environment?

JC: It is not true that there was intimidation during elections. People should now choose whoever they want.

ND: Are you saying the environment for elections has always been free and fair?

JC: Even in court when someone is accused of stealing they deny the charge. As I see it myself, the previous elections were free and fair.

Even when you study the American elections, you will find that they also disagree.

However, Zimbabwe is the only country where people say elections are not free and fair.

In Afghanistan, where there was a lot of killing the Americans said the elections were free and fair.

I can confirm to you that there are many war veterans who were killed and beaten up by MDC supporters during elections. So, let us go for the elections.

ND: Supposing Morgan Tsvangirai wins the elections, are you going to endorse the results and salute him?

JC: If I cannot vote for Tsvangirai, how can I salute him?

Mugabe will win, but if Tsvangirai wins the elections, he should know that war veterans brought independence and he is the one who is supposed to salute us. It would be very dangerous for him to expect that we will salute him.

How can people who did not vote for Tsvangirai salute him?

He should clearly understand who war veterans are and why they are important in Zimbabwe. If he does not salute us, it would become a very big problem.

Even the British know that the two MDC factions should salute war veterans and if they do not do that, it would be a big mistake.

We will only salute Mugabe because we suffered together with him in the bush and we have never been cowards. As war veterans we will only salute leaders who are war heroes.

ND:What are your sentiments on life presidency for Mugabe?

JC: What is the problem with that?

If he dies today, would we not say he was a life president?

We do not know when he is going to die and why should we start asking why he is not dying? We are not talking about death here; we are talking of someone with leadership qualities to be a life president.

What we are saying is that Mugabe should always be there for the benefit of Zanu PF. We still need him even if it takes 20 more years.

In the new Constitution, the people should indicate that they want Mugabe to be life president. How can we stop people from saying that when it is their wish?

Right now, we do not have anyone with leadership qualities in the country like Mugabe and so he must remain President.

War veterans say that he is our leader because we were together in the war.

ND: Is it true that there is factionalism amongst war veterans?

JC: War veterans have no factions. War vets will always be war veterans. If we were divided into factions, we would have a situation like the one in MDC where there is MDC-T and MDC-M.

Have you ever heard of a group called War Veterans –Mugabe or War Veterans – Nkomo?

We are united; it is only the Selous Scouts who want to divide us like the Minister of Education, David Coltart. We do not have two names.

Even those war veterans who are in the MDC factions work for us and we planted them there.

Even the war veterans who are in leadership positions in Zanu PF work for us. We send people to do our work in political parties.

ND: Do you have any political ambitions for high-ranking government posts?

JC: I can be an MP, senator or minister, especially the Ministry of Education, Arts, Sports and Culture. I can handle that one; it is a very good post for me.

I cannot be President myself because we already have a President. When he dies then we will have another President. It would take me 3 000 years to reach that position. The Presidency is for Mugabe, Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Vice-President John Nkomo and they will succeed each other by death. That is what we do in Zanu PF.

ND: But you are young and when all these people are no longer available to take the post of Presidency, would you not be interested?

JC: We do not know when they are going to die and we are not prophets.

As a child you cannot be too ambitious to want to take your father’s position whilst he is still alive.

That is witchcraft and I cannot comment on that.

The only position I want is to be Minister of Education, or even the Ministry of Lands.

ND: Would you agree that the land reform programme spearheaded by the war veterans was chaotic?

JC: That is a Coltart style of talking and that is cheap politics. People are doing very well in the farms.

When the whites took over our land, the Rhodesian Front supported them with cheap labour by Africans and they never paid for electricity and water.


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